All about Claymation

Sep, 2017

Clay Animation or Claymation is a form of stop-motion animation in which the subject is modeled with clay (usually Plasticine Clay). This technique is considered to have been in place from 1897, when the Plasticine Clay was found. But, the technique was trademarked in 1978 by Will Vinton, who owned an animation studio that was involved in clay animation movies. This kind of animation was highly popular from 1970 to early 1990s, until Computer Imagery Graphics (CGI) became prevalent. Even now it is used by many studios and individual animators considering that it preserves a unique authentic look for physical animation.

How It Works?

In Clay Animation, characters are modeled with the use of clay. They are then shot at different positions and different postures (only slight modifications can be done to a model; if a major posture change is required, then a fresh model has to be made). When the shot images are played in a sequence, we get to see the animation.

This process, though gives a unique output, is quite tedious and time consuming. It involves around 24 frames for one second of playback, which would equate to 24 still pictures for each second of movie time. Yes! It is that tedious. A half-an-hour clay animation movie would need 21,600 still pictures, and a full-length 90-minute movie would require 64,800 pictures. And this is why most of the claymation movies are of short duration.


5 Simple Steps to Create a Claymation

1.       Plan clearly on what kind of characters you should animate and how to create the models.

2.       Create a Storyboard that clearly records each scene.

3.       Build the clay models ensuring that the necessary parts of the models can be moved.

4.       Take the pictures, referring to your storyboard.

5.       Load images to a movie-maker software.


Remember These for Best Claymation

·         Take enough time to plan in detail and clearly.

·         Keep the models and backgrounds simple.

·         Build bigger models, as big parts like eyes and ears are easy to move and animate.

·         Try to have people to help, because it will be tedious to do the shoot single handily. May be some can help you in modelling.

·         Plan well in advance about the number of shots to be taken for each scene to ensure smooth movement.

·         Take lots of pictures so that you need not take the pain of setting the same scene again.

·         Do the shoot with a good digital camera.

·         Have lots of patience and time.

·         Select the right movie-making software suiting your needs.


Movies and Characters Created through Claymation

·         “The Sculptor's Welsh Rarebit Dream” is the first clay animation film produced in 1908 by Edison Manufacturing.

Other famous claymation films include:

·         Break (1985)

·         Alice (1988)

·         The Grand Day Out (1990)

·         Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase (1992)

·         A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (2011)

·         The Apostle (2012)

·         The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists (2012)

·         The Boxtrolls (2014)

·         The Wanted 18 (2014)




There are lot many other movies, TV series, music videos and advertisements created by claymation.

·         The world famous “Gumby" is the first clay animated character created by Art Clokey in 1955.

Other famous claymation characters include:

·         Wallace and Gromit

·         The California Raisins

·         The M&M characters ‘Red’ and ‘Yellow’



Though you may be comfortable with CGI and virtual or digital animation, it is very important that you try your hands on claymation, as many smaller studios still use clay animation and many opt this to get a retro style of animation.


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